Sam’s top tips if you want to eat more veggie food
National Vegetarian Week is a great excuse to enjoy delicious veggie food. Sam Platt, manager at the Vegetarian Society Cookery School has some tasty top tips for trying more veggie dishes!
Simple Swaps- start with something easy. What’s your ‘go to’ home cooked meal? Is it a Sunday Roast, a tikka masala, is it a spaghetti bolognaise? Make a list of three meals you regularly cook at home and switch the protein source. Swap in a Quorn roast; for a curry switch in chickpeas; create a brilliant bolognaise by swapping in green lentils. You might only need to switch out one ingredient to create your new favourite.
Plan ahead – start using a weekly meal planner. This is a great tool to help you think about your food. Plan out meals for the coming week and write a shopping list accordingly. When you’re tired and hungry it’s always helpful to have a veggie meal ready to cook. It also helps to reduce food waste as you’re likely to only buy what you need.
Know your meat-substitutes – meat substitutes aren’t the be all and end all of eating veggie but they are a super useful and tasty option. There are more substitutes on the market than ever before. Try a few different ones until you know which ones are for you.
Get some inspiration – you don’t have to come up with all the ideas yourself. Pop down to your local library and borrow a few veggie cook books; find a veggie food blogger to follow; visit www.vegsoc.org/recipes; book yourself on a veggie cookery course www.vegsoccookeryschool.org ; Why not try hosting a veggie ‘bring and share’ lunch? Get your friends over and ask them to each bring a veggie dish. Try them all and discuss what you all liked about each one.
Stock up – stock your larder full of exciting foods. Make sure you have a good selection of dried and tinned pulses, grains, pasta, rice, tofu, cooking sauces, nuts, seeds and dried fruit. If you always walk past the herbs and spices section in the supermarket, stop, take a look and buy something interesting.
Know your proteins- Everyone needs to know what foods have high protein or iron content. Do a little bit of research, check out the free Going Veggie guide.
Always have a couple of options on standby. My favourites at the minute are frozen edamame beans or flaked almonds. I know I can always up the protein content of my meals by throwing in a handful of either one of these tasty ingredients.
Eat the rainbow- make sure you include a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in your new diet. Fit as many colours of fruit and veg into you day as you can.
Get creative- try new flavour combinations, experiment with different ways of cooking vegetables. Roasting is always a great easy option, its minimum fuss and can bring out amazing flavours in your vegetables. Just toss your veg with a little oil, season with whatever takes your fancy ,you can go simple with just salt and pepper, add a bit of garlic or fresh herbs, ( I often go for spicing things up with my favourite hot sauce) and roast for 10-25 mins depending on size until they are just starting to colour. Add them to a salad with a handful of chickpeas for a super easy meal!
Watch out for ‘hidden ingredients’- not every non-vegetarian ingredient is obvious. Check ingredients lists for animal derivatives. Look out for the Vegetarian Society Approved trademarks to be sure a product is vegetarian.
Batch cook- I talk about batch cooking a lot! It makes so much sense if you’re new to veggie cooking to make the most of your cooking time and effort. If you’re making a spicy veggie chilli for dinner on Monday make more than you need; pop some in a burrito for packed lunch on Tuesday; freeze a couple of portions to have with sweet potato wedges and chargrilled corn on Friday or in a jacket potato on Saturday with some crunchy green salad.